Hot enough for you?
The country stars are fully in tune with summertime this week.
Efforts by Dan + Shay, Hardy, Mickey Guyton & Kane Brown, Lionel Cartwright, Uncle Kracker and Travis Denning sound custom made for warm weather.
The most summer-sounding of all is Chris Young, who wins the Disc of the Day award.
Newcomers? We’ve got ‘em, with Christian Parker, Whitney Miller and our DISCovery Award winner Cassandra Davis all lending their voices to the vacation season.
O.N.E. THE DUO / “Superpower”
Writers: Shane Stevens/Nash Overstreet; Producer: Nash Overstreet; Label: Visionary Media Group
– Being a woman is a superpower sez the mother-daughter duo. It’s a charming single, but it would sound a lot more “country” if it had some actual musical instruments in the production instead of just electronic loops.
HARDY / “Truck Bed”
Writers: Ashley Gorley/Michael Hardy/Hunter Phelps/Ben Johnson; Producers: Joey Moi/Derek Wells/Hardy/Ben Johnson; Label: Big Loud Records/Big Loud Rock
– She’s kicked him out, so now he wakes up “on the wrong side of the truck bed” in the front yard. Now he has to go to work with a hangover. Instruments twang merrily, the gang sings along and a goofball vibe reigns supreme.
CAYLEE HAMMACK / “That Dog”
Writers: Caylee Hammack/Jake Mitchell/Aaron Raitiere; Producers: Caylee Hammack/Dann Huff; Label: Capitol Nashville
– The fiery redhead is totally over him, but she misses the dog. Sassy and spirited.
CHRIS YOUNG / “Young Love & Saturday Nights”
Writers: Ashley Gorley/Jesse Frasure/Josh Thompson/David Bowie; Producers: Chris Young/Corey Crowder/Chris DeStafano; Label: RCA
– The melody quotes “Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie, but this uptempo romp is country all the way. It’s a joyous celebration of old trucks, small towns, radio tunes and necking in the parking lot. Roll down the windows and crank it up on a carefree weekend.
CASSANDRA LEWIS / “Too Much”
Writers: none listed; Producer: Dave Cobb; Label: Elektra/Low Country Sounds
– My ears perked right up. This Portland, Oregan singer-songwriter will kick off her new album with this soul ballad. It’s a stately heartbreak outing with a spare arrangement that frames an extraordinary vibrato-vocal performance. She aims for the stratosphere and then soars above it. A remarkable, singular talent.
DAN + SHAY / “Save Me the Trouble”
Writers: Jordan Reynolds/Ashley Gorley/Dan Smyers/Shay Mooney/Jordan Minton; Producers: Dan Smyers/Scott Hendricks; Label: Warner Music Nashville
– She’s a heartbreak waiting to happen, so this power ballad throws down a warning. As we have come to expect, the singing here is simply excellent. The layered harmonies and understated production both work splendidly. Hit bound.
WHITNEY MILLER / “Nobody”
Writers: Hailey Nicole Verhaalen/Kelly Anne Seidel/Makena Hartlin; Producer: none listed; Label: Whitney Miller Music
– Smoldering and sensuous. She’s in a fever dream that he’s being unfaithful, so electric guitars echo and swirl around her steamy, smoky vocal. Miller is a former Miss United States (2012) who is also a mixed martial arts fighter and kickboxing commentator. Her singing is a tough as she is.
MICKEY GUYTON & KANE BROWN / “Nothing Compares to You”
Writers: Tyler Hubbard/Bebe Rexha/Jordan Schmidt; Producers: Tyler Hubbard/Jordan Schmidt; Label: Capitol Records Nashville
– They sound pretty good together, his plaintive, roughshod delivery contrasting nicely with her sunny, scintillating soprano. The slow-burn, bluesy tune gives Mickey, in particular, plenty of room to vamp and improvise. Smooth listening.
BRANDON DAVIS / “Still Gonna Be”
Writers: Brandon Davis/Daniel Agee/Joe Ragosta; Producers: Daniel Agee; Label: Big Yellow Dog Music
– He sings with passion, but the song isn’t worth the effort.
UNCLE KRACKER / “Reason to Drink”
Writers: Matthew Shafer/Blair Daly/Troy Verges; Producer: none listed; Label: UK
– A summertime party song. You’ll feel like you’re heard it before.
TRAVIS DENNING / “Things I’m Going Through”
Writers: Matt Mulhare/Jordan Dozzi; Producers: Jeremy Stover/Paul DiGiovanni; Label: Mercury Nashville
– He’s so relatable. He delivers this heartbroken meditation in a conversational, everyman voice that worms its way right into ya. The little details in the lyric are really cool. I remain a big fan.
LIONEL CARTWRIGHT / “Sleepwalking”
Writer: Lionel Cartwright; Producer: Lionel Cartwright; Label: Soul Mine Recordings
– Totally groovy. The gentle, mellow track is embellished with his tasty guitar licks, and the tune sways like a hammock on a summer afternoon. The creamy, dreamy, romantic mood is pure pleasure. This veteran hit maker still has the goods. Seek this ultimately enjoyable single out now. You can thank me later.
CHRISTIAN PARKER / “Hickory Wind”
Writers: Gram Parsons/Bob Buchanan; Producer: none listed; Label: CP
– Parker’s album Sweethearts drops on August 18. It is his tribute to the seminal 1968 Byrds country-rock masterpiece Sweethearts of the Rodeo. This single from it comes out tomorrow (July 21), and it’s a dandy remake of Gram Parsons’ timelessly eloquent waltz. Lilting and lovely. In addition to all the songs on the original album, the collection contains versions of “I Still Miss Someone,” “Satisfied Mind” and “Truck Store Truck Drivin’ Man.” Highly recommended.
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